Children are impressionable, especially with someone they love, admire or who holds a position of authority.
That’s why it is important for teachers to not only teach subject matter, but also to show respectful behavior.
All adults in children’s lives are teachers. People in public positions are a special kind of teacher – ones we are taught to revere.
That’s why President Trump’s appearance in front of 40,000 Boy Scouts Monday is so disappointing and damaging.
He demeaned the office and exploited the young men who attended.
Scouts are trained to be citizen leaders, and to know what respectful behavior looks like. They had been admonished to avoid a campaign style rally. But, faced with President Trump who veered from his prepared remarks (much to his staff’s chagrin, I am sure), and solicited praise for himself and ridicule for others, many responded to please him.
It was destructive to the Boy Scouts’ brand and to the boys’ character building to promote taunts against a former president and opponent. Trump used them for his own petty political posturing.
It says more about Mr. Trump’s character to need that kind of response than about the scouts’ potential to become respectful people. But, it tells a story of how easy it is to turn minds to negative rather than positive.
It doesn’t take long for your brain to get used to reacting negatively and hatefully.
And, in this era of 24/7 social media messaging, negative, hateful comments – even from @realDonaldTrump – bombard us regularly.
Can our civilization stand this? I think so, but it will take each of us to act, to demand better of our public officials, and of this president. It is clear by now that he won’t change unless he feels he must.
I don’t think I am being too dramatic by including here a Facebook post from this week by a dear friend who is a social studies teacher. She has been studying the Holocaust. She posted a photo of the wall of beautiful faces from the D.C. memorial museum and wrote:
“Do not teach or imply that the Holocaust was inevitable. The Holocaust took place because individuals, groups and nations made decisions to act or not to act.”
People learned to react negatively toward groups of people. That negative attitude turned to hate. Too few people acted to reverse that trend.
Let’s get our act together. Stand up to this type of behavior, which seeks to pit us against each other, even, or especially, when it’s hard or uncomfortable. Think about what you say and do. Children are always watching out for who they want to be.
If you missed President Trump’s Speech at the 2017 Boy Scout Jamboree in West Virginia, here’s a transcript: